Seeking proper medical care is essential, especially when you are concerned about a serious condition for yourself or a family member. It is important to trust the doctors and nurses to make decisions that are in your best interests. But while you might be tempted to follow their advice without any question or doubt, you should also take steps to protect your own health.
Medical professionals aren't infallible; they can make mistakes. It is smart to double check the information you are being given in order to prevent medical errors. While patients can only do so much for themselves, it might give you peace of mind to know that you are prepared. Here are some tips to consider.
Write everything down
Bring a pen and paper with you to your medical appointments. Take notes. You can refer back to these notes to make sure you have a good understanding of your diagnosis and treatment plan. This also gives you a chance to be certain that you are getting what you need.
For example, if your doctor says you are being prescribed a particular medication at a specific dose, write it down. You can then cross check the prescriptions you receive with the list you made during the appointment.
Don't be afraid to ask questions
Sometimes doctors don't make things clear for those of us who don't have medical training. Don't be afraid to ask questions if something doesn't make sense.
Even if you understand your diagnosis and the treatment plan, you might be worried about things like side effects and risks. If your doctor seems rushed, that's not your problem. Your health is important, so he or she needs to take the time to answer your questions.
Bring someone with you
It is possible that you might miss something important during your appointment. If necessary, bring a family member or friend with you so they can hear what is being said. They might be able to catch something that you don't.
Ask the person who is with you to take notes of everything and to speak up if there is anything that doesn't seem clear or correct. After the appointment, you can share notes to confirm important information.
Double check everything
When you get a prescription or receive treatment or therapy, double check what you are getting and doing. Make sure the medication looks right. Pay attention to what you are being told to do by your health care providers.
If you are going in for surgery, have everyone verify what is being done and where. The more you check up on the people caring for you, the more you can reduce the chance that you are going to suffer from a dangerous occurrence like a wrong-site surgery, medication error, or similar problem.